Wednesday, 7 March 2018



Newspaper  and housing merger secrecy worries     

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 The saga of secrecy about a planned Cumbria  housing merger continued last weekend in an article in the leading county newspaper. New allegations are made and the newspaper, the Carlisle-based Cumberland News highlights worries about the secrecy.

The new allegations come from Councillor Barbara Cannon who says she is in annoyed that the decision about planned merger- between Workington-based Impact Housing Association and  the Liverpool-based Riverside Housing Association was taken without input from tenants.

“The residents need to be included and I don`t know what consultation is taking place” she said.

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Barbara Cannon..."annoyed"
 Mrs Cannon is  borough councillor for Salterbeck, Workington and she adds in the article:

“When Riverside and Impact made the decision to go for a merger, it was announced on social media before Salterbeck residents got a letter telling them what was happening. I think that is very poor communication.

“If you are running a company you make sure the shareholders hear about something before the rest of the world does.”

The article is spread over four columns on the paper`s leader page under the headline: “Worry as association merger talks are shrouded in secrecy.”

It was written by Stephen Blease and follows a promise to investigate the planned merger made by the paper`s associate editor Chris Story. The promise was made to the campaigning group Carlisle Tenants and Residents` Federation which publishes this blog and which  first highlighted the secrecy in a letter to the editor.

The Federation has  congratulated Mr Story on his investigation which holds to  account the governing board which runs the Impact association.

The Federation in a letter to Mr Story says the article is “ a great service to the community and is in the very best traditions of journalism”

Sadly, the story did not tell readers the correct reason for the merger: i.e. Impact was downgraded to non-compliant by the social housing regulator in May last year for both governance and financial viability.

The  regulator  said it had lacked assurances that the board of Impact was managing its affairs with “an appropriate degree of skill, diligence, effectiveness, prudence and foresight”.

Readers of the Cumberland News are still in the dark about this.

Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation publishes this blog. Information about the Federation is available on 01228 522277 or 01228 532803

Saturday, 3 March 2018


Housing merger allegations

 New allegations of secrecy have emerged about a planned merger of two housing associations. But other similar accusations about the merger plans have been denied by a newspaper boss.

The new allegations come from management consultant Adrian Waite who is leading the way in a wave of criticism of plans to merge the small Workington-based Impact Housing Association with the giant Riverside Housing Association of Liverpool.

Adrian Waite says that Impact`s plans are “shrouded in secrecy.”

The newspaper boss is Chris Story Associate Editor of the Carlisle daily News and Star.

Chris Story says it is “not the case” that his readers have been kept in the dark about the merger as was alleged by the campaigning group Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation in its previous post on this blog.

Adrian Waite makes his allegations in the blog of his Appleby(Cumbria)-based firm, AWICS. He compares the planned merger with a similar merger situation near Glasgow involving Arklet Housing Association of Giffnock, East Renfrewshire.

The comparison is far from favourable to Impact in which Adrian Waite is a shareholder.Up to fairly recently he was also  chairman of Impact.

In his job of management consultant he  recently met  with officers and tenants of the Arklet associaton .

Now, he has this to say:

“There is a similarity between Arklet Housing Association and Impact Housing Association in that both are seeking to form a ‘partnership’ with another housing 
Image result for Arklet housing associoation picture

“ However, there is a contrast between the process being followed at Arklet that is open and transparent and involves tenants fully and the process that is being followed at Impact that appears to be shrouded in secrecy and to exclude tenants.

 “For example, Impact:

  • Has not established a steering group that involves tenants.
  • Does not intend to appoint an Independent Tenants’ Advisor.
  • Does not have a Tenant Communications Strategy for the ‘takeover’
  • Does not intend to consult tenants on the business case.
  • Does not intend to consult tenants on the proposed ‘takeover’.
  • Does not intend to hold a ballot.

“Tenants have contacted me to express their concern, including one who wrote that:

`Mark Costello (Chair of Impact) (said) that all tenants would be consulted with about the partnership, but nobody has got in touch with tenants other than a letter stating that Riverside is the preferred partner.`

“In my view, Impact Housing Association should re-assess its approach to resident engagement.”

Newspaper boss Chris Story makes his “in the dark” denial in a letter to the Federation.

This is what he says:

“I understand that your latest blog raises concerns that I have kept our readers  "in the dark". I would like to reassure you, your members and followers that this is not the case.

“As I am sure all those connected with you will appreciate, we are simply trying to build a rounded picture of the issues and concerns raised.”

What does the Federation say about that?

A spokesman said: “We welcome Chris Story`s assurance and as he requests, we will help him to “ build a rounded picture”.

“But building this rounded picture seems to be taking a very long time…remember, it is over  a  month since this matter was first raised with Chris Story`s newspaper. That delay is concerning for the Federation.”

 Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation publishes this blog. Information about the Federation is available on 01228 522277 or 01228 532803